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America’s Favorite Cities

I’m torn. Austin or San Francisco?

Travel+Leisure magazine asks travelers to rank America’s favorite cities in a poll that features 25 of the countries best destinations. Some of my personal favorites made the ballot – Charleston, New Orleans, New York, Austin and San Francisco – but my vote for number one came down to two inspiring cities that are actually very similar to one another.

Both Austin and San Francisco have a hip and funky vibe, but the similarities that stand out to me are their live music hot spots, love of food and outdoor pursuits. Growing up in Texas, Austin has always been one of my favorite weekend getaways. It’s a haven for music junkies and bar flies with blocks and blocks of local pubs, Mexican food joints and live music dives. Similarly, SF (my new home) boasts a bar on every block, worldly cuisine and iconic music venues.

With these two cities on the list, I’m struggling to cast my vote (maybe I’ll just cheat and vote for both!). What’s your favorite American city?

When Nature Calls

Of all the things that, ahem, stink about air travel, the bathrooms are surely one of the worst. Little more than glorified closets, they’re tiny, smelly, likely to encourage claustrophobia, and usually–at least by the end of the flight–sporting suspicious-looking sprinklings on both floor and seat. It’s enough to make a passenger cross her legs and hope for the best.

Harry Potter: Travel Wizard

Guess who’s having the best week ever? You are, if, like me, you’re a Harry Potter fan. The fifth Potter movie opens today, and my pre-ordered copy of the final book will arrive on July 21.

I don’t care as much for the witches and warlocks as I do the backdrops: the sky-high Gothic halls of Hogwarts School, the haunting (sometimes talking) landscapes, the oh-so-British town of Hogsmeade (specifically, the butterbeer served there). And like any determined traveler, I won’t let the fact that these places are fictional stop me from visiting them.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Glamazon22.

The New 7 Wonders of the World

Like a crushed beauty queen, the Statue of Liberty was relegated to the runner’s-up lounge to weep with the Easter Island statues after the “new” seven wonders of the world were revealed over the weekend. Read the winner’s list, though, and you’ll see she had some tough competition. Edged out by the likes of the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, and Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer, she really has nothing to be ashamed of.

Although I’ve been to a lot of wondrous places, I’ve been to only three that made the list: the Roman Coliseum, Chichén Itzá, and, most recently, Machu Picchu.